LAKE CITY, S.C. (WBTW) — Lake City celebrated its inaugural Juneteenth celebration over the weekend.

“We have a very diverse community here, and I felt it was only fair to have a program that could actually incorporate everyone,” Lake City Police Chief Joseph Cooper said. “Juneteenth does that. It doesn’t separate. It doesn’t segregate. It encourages everyone to come together as a community.”

The federal holiday celebrates the day — June 19, 1865 — when enslaved African Americans learned about their emancipation.

Cooper, who’s also the city’s deputy administrator, said Lake City’s event, which began on Thursday, is a way to show that the local government cares about its residents.

“The kids need to see that the community and the city all work together to sponsor them and ensure they have a better quality of life,” he said.

Embracing the holiday, which became federally recognized last year, will help to promote inclusion, Cooper said.

“We have conversations about different ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds and traditions,” he said. “Once that communications gap is filled, it makes for a better community.”

Food trucks, bands and a barbecue competition were just a few of the attractions that could be found during Saturday’s third day of the celebrations.

City administrator William Hall said observations will continue for the next two days.

“We’re going to recognize the holiday on Monday, and all regular staff except first responders will be off,” he said.

The festival wasn’t just for locals. Marva Cannion of Kingstree was among many from across the region who showed up for the celebration.

“Lake City is becoming a magnet for entertainment and for the arts,” Cannion said. “It’s good to see different genders, religions and races come together in a positive way.”

Observations will continue on Sunday at churches across Lake City.